A seven-member select committee has been appointed by the Lower House of Parliament to review the Fire and Rescue Bill, which was presented during its sitting on Monday.
The bill, once passed, will modernize the fire department. The separation of the fire department from the police force has been a long-standing request made by members of the Fire Brigade, led by former Fire Chief Elvis Weaver for several years.
Separation is expected to lead to better training for firefighters and faster response times as they can focus solely on fire duties.
Antigua and Barbuda is the only Caricom country that has not yet separated the two entities.
Once the bill is passed, the Fire Brigade will be renamed the Antigua and Barbuda Fire and Rescue Services.
The new entity will also be part of the Coast Guard’s operations in case of fires on the ocean. Discussions will be held to refurbish a building in the St. Philip’s South constituency to house a fire and police station.
The Attorney General, the Leader of the Opposition, and the Barbuda MP will establish a committee to meet with members of the fire department, key stakeholders, and members of the public to give their views.
The Attorney General will chair the committee with government representatives St John’s Rural East MP Maria Browne, St John’s Rural South MP Daryll Matthew, and St John’s City East MP Melford Nicholas.
Opposition members Leader of the Opposition Jamale Pringle, St John’s Rural West MP Richard Lewis, and St Philip’s North MP Sherfield Bowen will also serve on the committee.